View Full Version : Hello, complete newbie needs advice

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12/03/2003 5:37pm,
Hello everyone, Iím new to both these forums and martial arts in general. Hi!

I just signed up for a few months of shotokan karate. Iíve been reading about it on the internet, and 9 out of 10 things I hear about martial arts are bad. I just wanted everyoneís opinion and make sure I havenít signed up for a McDojo, or something Iíll regret later.

My first two lessons were ďtrial lessonsĒ. I paid 20 bucks (Canadian) for a uniform and 2 hours of instruction. I was paired with an instructor (the owners of the dojo were a husband and wife teamÖI havenít met them yet) who taught me basic dojo etiquette (bow before you go in, junior ranks at the back of the class, ect), walked me through the beginning warm-up and stretches, and finally taught me a few punches and kicks. At the end of the second session, we went into an office. I first watched a video (a promo of the school) which the instructor and I ignored while we talked, then went over payment options for classes. The instructor wanted me to sign up for a years worth of classes. I was very hesitant at committing to a year contract, and eventually got her to agree to a 2 month thing.

The people seem nice, the school seems reputable, there is regular sparring and many of their students compete in regional tournaments. However, her hard-on for the year contract and the fact I hadnít been able to participate with the rest of the class has made me nervous.

Does this sound like a school Iíd want to go to?

12/03/2003 5:40pm,
1 year contracts are a big warning sign, but...describe the sparring?

12/03/2003 5:43pm,
It starts at yellow belt (the belts go white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black) and it was described as "light contact".

When you get into the orange or green belts, the intructor called it "moderate contact"

Wu De
12/03/2003 5:46pm,
A lot people who run a school solely as their profession require a degree of financial security, but 1 year is a really long time to commit to if you haven't got the flavour of the school. The 2month compromise seems good, take advantage of it and let us know what your first 'group' session is like.

Welcome to Bullshido!

12/03/2003 5:51pm,
Ahh, so you have't actually sparred yet. You should be able to get yellow belt in two months eh? Just ask yourself as you watch the higher be;ts spar "Are we really ;earning to fight?"

12/03/2003 5:54pm,
You see, that's my concern. I've never been in a fight and I have never sparred anyone. I don't know what to look for, really. I go to plunk down 100 bucks and take my first group class in an hour or so. Should I do it, or should I phone them and call it off?

The Wastrel
12/03/2003 5:58pm,
What? 100 dollars for a month?

12/03/2003 5:59pm,
No, for the two months. I don't know if they're going to want me to pay all at once or for each month individually.

12/03/2003 6:00pm,
Whether or not you should stay at this place depends on what you are looking to get out of your training. You see, different people have different goals when they come into martial arts, and the first thing you need to do is figure out what it is you're after.

If you want to learn how to fight or defend yourself under any sort of realistic conditions, you came to the wrong place. You WILL NOT learn how to fight there. Any "self defence" they may teach you WILL NOT be effective in real life (tm) and could likely get you hurt. So if it is fighting or self defence you're after, attend the class for two months since you've paid for it already, turn around, and don't look back. You can not and will not learn how to fight without actually fighting, and I don't mean "light contact". Learning how to fight will be full of sweat, blood, and occasional injuries. There's no way around it.

If you are looking for a fun and enriching hobby, this may be the place for you. You classes will provide a fun and somewhat athletic ability, a place to socialize, and will not get you hurt. Karate tournaments that you will participate in are lots of fun. As long as you keep in mind that the skills you learn there will not translate into being a streetfighter (tm) you should be ok. I, for one, couldn't care less about self defence. It's not why I train. If you think of it as a recreational sport, you may very well enjoy yourself.

If you;re looking to get in shape, there's better things to do as well. These karate classes will certainly be better than nothing, but something like cardio-kickboxing will be better. Neither of these things will teach you how to fight though.

Good luck.

Darting Fingers
12/03/2003 6:02pm,
1. A trial lesson is just that a trial, you should not have had to pay for a uniform thats concerning as it just looks like a money making procedure.

2. I don't know if its anything to really worry about, but a t my school beginners go up the front as they get a better view of what the instructor is doing and he/she can correct them.

3.If you paid for "2 hours of instruction" and you got taught etiquette, stretching and not the basics of the fundamentals of the style and then next time told to watch a promotional video that worries me. Why do you need to see some video if your already there and willing to participate? Did it tell you you'd become a black belt weapon killing machine showing you fancy kicks and tricks etc.? Also payment options should be discussed after your class not during the time you've paid for.

4.A year is along time but its not that unusual to be offered that

But hey, give it a go assess it for yourself and talk to people, then come to whatever conclusion seems right to you.

12/03/2003 6:05pm,
Trying to get you to sign a year contract does not indicate they are dodgy.
It indicates they are trying to keep themselves in business instead of living day to day.
The fact they let you sign for 2 months indicates they are flexible and aren't out to rip you off.

If you are really worried about it, pay them in cash for 2 months so they have no access to your credit card and can't 'accidently' charge you after you've stopped going (not saying it'll happen, but its of course a possibility)

Assuming you have more than 2 months to live, it is not a large portion of your life. Go to some classes, see how you enjoy it, look around at what the higher belts are doing.

After 2 months if you don't like it, go somewhere else.
You'll have at least worked on basic conditioning, stretching, etc which will help you greatly in the future.

12/03/2003 6:49pm,
Give the school a shot but at the same time look around for other schools and see if you can sit in for a lesson or maybe get a trial class. I suggest this so you can compare and contrast the school your paying for to other training halls in the area.

As a Karateka I'm the first to tell you that finding a good Karate school is hard to find. The quality of Shotokan dojos, especially, vary greatly. However its good to spend the 2 months at that dojo even if its bad. Interacting with actually real life Bullshido makes for a very good frame of reference.

I'm a relative noob myself to Karate having only spent 3 years in Goju ryu. But here is my criteria for a good Karate school in order of importance.

Hard workouts: Being strong, not neccessarily big, is a requisite for doing many Karate techniques. Having a hard body also helps you resist injuries during kumite and of course in real life.

Kumite (Sparring): Sparring is the backbone of all martial arts. Light contact is fine during the first month. You could probably add in some moderate contact in the second month. While you can go at your own pace eventually your skill level will warrant moderate to full contact kumite on a regular basis. Kumite every class is definitely ideal.

Striking drills: The purpose of Karate is to use your hands, feet, elbows, knees, and your skull to hit your opponent till he is stunned, is knocked out, or is dead. Period. So most classes should include striking drills: shadowboxing, hitting a heavy bag, hitting focus mitts, hitting a shield, hitting a makiwara ect. This pretty much where you learn the mechanics of Karate techniques.

Basic stand up grappling: There should be some time training counters to grabs, chokes, headlocks and the like. Also some jointlocks and a least a few chokes should be thrown in for good measure just to round out the curriculum. Shotokan is not a grappling style so you should leave serious grappling training for if and when you crosstrain in a style that specifies in those areas.

Kata (Forms): Forms are definitely a great training tool for any martial artist. Kata improves your coordination, breathing, flexibility, concentration, balance ect. It should also reflect many of basic blocking and striking techniques found in Karate. It is an excellent workout and a nice compliment to striking drills during solo training. Kata should only be a ::suppliment:: to sparring and drills.

12/03/2003 9:24pm,
Remember this is Canadian money. :D
Where in Canada are you?

Good posts above.
Ensure not that much time is spent doing kata.

12/03/2003 9:45pm,
Due to the reaserch, various forums and chatrooms, and the vibe I got from the school itself...I decided at the last minute not to take the class.

Everything I've seen about karate and martial arts in general on the net has been negative. It's apparently not as a social thing as I thought, won't help me defend myself (apparently) and according to most people I can get a better workout by going to the gym on my own. Besides that, everyone seems to think that there are much better martial art styles than karate out there (although nobody seems to agree what they are)

I actually got to the center and went in the changeroom before I made up my mind completely.
Most of my class was made up of children. The girl yesterday was so pushy she was bordering on "used car salesman" trying to get me to sign a year contract.
This was the third time I'd been to the school and the school's head sensei hadn't even bothered to meet me yet. I decided that I didn't need to pay someone to show me how to do pushups and jumping jacks. I told the lady at the counter my decision and went home.

Thanks for your advice...I guess it saved me a lot of time and money. So why do I still feel like crap for my decision?

The Wastrel
12/03/2003 9:48pm,
The girl yesterday was so pushy she was bordering on "used car salesman" trying to get me to sign a year contract.
This was the third time I'd been to the school and the school's head sensei hadn't even bothered to meet me yet.

**** that place. I get to go head-to-head with my instructor almost every day.

You probably feel bad because you're a nice person.

12/03/2003 9:51pm,
No problem.

I think you made the right descision. Before you go back to thinking about doing martial arts, though, you need to really figure out where your priorities lie. Once you do that, this board is an excellent place to ask for advice.